In a statement this evening, the Chamber of Commerce said that it was analysing the results of a survey conducted over the weekend with its members on the effects of the government support measures announced on the 18th March.
The preliminary results were communicated with Government over the course of Monday, 23rd March. In essence, the feedback coming through the survey confirmed that the stimulus package needs to be directed more specifically towards more tangible wage support schemes for employers in hard-hit sectors of the economy in order to urgently save jobs and precious resources for local companies.
At the same time, the Chamber organised a high-powered e-meeting with the participation of 25 expert CEOs from the world of finance, banking and innovation. The meeting chaired by president Perit David Xuereb served to evaluate creative and tangible solutions to protect employment and address the economic impasse in Malta (both in the immediate and short term) caused by the effects of covid-19 whilst collecting researched and expert thoughts on the country’s potential future steps in the current circumstances.
The outcome of this discussion was communicated to the Prime Minister shortly after the conclusion of the meeting in advance of a special cabinet meeting reportedly called to discuss additional measures aimed at supporting hard-hit businesses.
The Chamber said that it shall continue to proactively serve member businesses and their employees in all sectors to ensure they see out this unfortunate predicament with least damage possible.
Gozo deserves a special economic package – Delia
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia appealed for a support package which specifically addresses the needs of Gozo and its businesses.
Delia stressed that in terms of health, Gozitans are suffering the brunt of Government’s decision to sell the island’s General Hospital to foreigners.
PN MP Chris Said explained that Gozo’s dependency on tourism was far more significant than Malta, with 50% of its GDP originating from this sector. In Malta, tourism accounted for 20% of GDP. Moreover, in previous years, the development gap between the two islands continued to widen, and now stands at over 40%.
Fellow MP Kevin Cutajar referred to the lack of a swabbing centre on Gozo, adding risk to Gozitans. He also lamented that the authorities were not being transparent on the number of beds available in Gozo to treat coronavirus-infected patients.
Update 1259 hrs
17 new cases for the second day running, 107 cases in total – Prof Gauci
Prof Charmaine Gauci, in her daily briefing, announced that yesterday’s new-patient tally has been matched, with another 17 cases registered. This means that Malta has now exceeded the 100-patient mark, with a total of 107 cases.
These cases resulted from over 300 swabs taken in the past 24 hours.
Of the new cases, ten were related to travel, including five Maltese nationals with seven related to community transmissions. Charmaine Gauci explained that these numbers are within the authorities’ expectations at this stage of the epidemic.
Three of the cases identified as community transmission related to two previously identified persons, therefore creating a cluster of five. The necessary contact tracing is ongoing.
Prof Gauci added that Malta has one of the world’s highest per-capita rate of swabbing, with a total of 2106 symptomatic people tested, as well as 933 persons at Mater Dei Hospital.
Update 1003 hrs
The Maltese Curia has confirmed that Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to Malta has been postponed in view of the current situation. The Pope was due to visit Malta on 30 and 31st May.
Restricted retail activities from today – Full list
Public activity will take another step back today as by 8am this morning new restrictive measures come into force. These concern the closure of non-essential retail outlets (such as electronics, toys, clothes) and non-essential services (such as hairdressers, beauticians and the like).
In a statement published late in the evening, Government clarified that the list of non-essential retail outlets include footwear, jewellery shops, costume jewellery and accessories, non-prescription eyewear, perfumeries, beauty products, haberdasheries, soft furnishings, household appliances, discount stores, luggage shops, toy shops, hobby shops, furniture, florists and vaping shops.
This will not impact supermarkets, grocers, bakeries, banks, transport and health-related outlets.
These measures were announced yesterday by Deputy PM Chris Fearne in the light of an increasing number of COVID-19 infections transmitted in the community.
Deputy PM Chris Fearne also announced that 17 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours. He denied again that any patient lost his life in the past hours. There are now 90 cases, 27 patients in Mater Dei and St Thomas Hospital – the rest recovering at home.